Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The grace of letting go

I am mad. Thoughts of that incident makes my blood boil to more than a hundred degrees.

With eyes focused on the monitor, fingers busy typing on the keypad trying to catch each thought that flowed through my mind, I didn't notice the unfamiliarity of those two pairs of feet enter the door.

The face of those two guys who entered my doorstep are still clear in my memory. While one was pointing his gun on my face, the other guy was struggling with the cords attached to my laptop, not knowing that all he had to do was simply pull out those USB drives ... no need to struggle with it ... but he fiercely cut the wires with his bare hands ... anger and fear made me rush to my laptop ... to protect it and what was inside ...

Before I realized what was coming, I was down on the floor with my 'sacrum' hitting the edge of the stairs. Gosh, that really hurt a lot!!! The other guy hit my forehead with his gun when I tried to take back my laptop!!!

... and they were gone in less than 5 minutes, with my laptop, cellphone, and wallet. It took me a minute before I was able to stand up to cry for help. But it was too late. They were gone.

No, this is not an introduction to a short story. But I wish it was. The same way I felt in those 5 minutes. But it happened for real.

This incident happened a month ago ... the whole thing happened in less than 5 minutes ... but its impact slowly emerged and stayed with me for almost a month. The physical pain, the mental anguish, the fear for our safety, helplessness for the lack of decisive actions by the nearest police forces to catch the rooks, the guilt for being too trusting for keeping my door open most of the time for the past year-and-a-half, and a lot of other emotions that flooded my being.

For the following weeks going through my usual routine was an attempt to feign normalcy and show everyone that everything's alright. This was also meant for those who might be observing us, yet to make a comeback, as others say about robbers going back to the 'scene of the crime'.

I had to finish and submit my report ... on time ... cook meals, manage the house, take care of our pets, meet up with clients, and do everything else as if nothing happened.

But deep inside, time stood still ... and if it moved, it was moving so slowly. I was experiencing a lot. And February became the longest month I ever experienced these past few years.

... I went through a week of self-denial: "No, it only happens in the movies. Not to me." But the space on top of my computer table, however, patiently reminded me that it really did happen.

... several nights of restless sleep and being easily awakened by sounds of footsteps (by stray cats, our pets, and anybody else in the neighborhood).

... there was constant fear that I might see those 2 guys back on my doorstep to get the power cord (for the laptop), the only thing left of my laptop.

... the nervous laughter whenever I see one end of the USB flash drive, with its wire severely cut forcefully by that foolish guy.

I was told I should be thankful that all I got was a knock on my forehead and a butt that hurt. But I know that getting hurt like that is not something to be grateful about. I still felt doubly violated: for being robbed and being robbed right inside a place I trust(ed) to be safe -- inside our house. But given all the stories I read in the newspaper, I guess I really have to be thankful about this.

I was also thankful that I have started to back-up my files and copied them in CDs before this incident.  Those were important records, reports I made for previous and current projects, and photos that were recently uploaded by my two daughters.

From the time it happened up until yesterday, I was able to convince myself that what I lost were "things" that can be replaced. We can buy another laptop, another cellphone, to replace them. But losing these "things" also created a vacuum that increased in size ... as their real value to my daily routines continue to unfold ...

After a couple of weeks I began to feel the absence of my laptop, my virtual office (as a freelance) for the past 5 years; the absence of a cellphone ringing and reminding me about things and appointments for each day.

It's a blessing that several friends gave me unlimited access to their computers to continue with my work. And the landline phone suddenly became the main instrument to connect with the outside world.

We were able to cope, somehow.

But there is one thing I realized only now, after copying back those files into this new laptop --- I lost something very important to me... my journal entries (the ones I wrote in my computer) for the entire year of 2007 were gone. I wasn't able to copy them in those CDs.

In moments like this, I strive to remember what a friend once told me, to never allow such incidents to affect how I view life; not to allow it to stop me from enjoying the warmth of the sun, the soulful conversations and the company of friends; and never to allow it to stop me from opening up my heart and experiencing the joy in life all over again.

It took a while before I was able to gather my courage to write about how I felt, to express my anger, my vulnerability, and appreciate the love and support given to us.

Writing about it with a mixed feeling of anger and resignation is all I can do right now.  Good thing there are many things before me now that demand more of my attention.  Gotta shift my focus then and simply let go ... come'n, Azl, let it go.